The Princeton University Glee Club performed live for the first time in over a year on Oct. 29, singing alongside students from Harvard and Yale in the third Hand in Hand concert.
The free event, which took place in Richardson Auditorium, consisted of a performance from Princeton students and sets from the Harvard and Yale Glee Clubs. The concert was a collaborative effort between the three universities to raise money for the nonprofit Save the Music, which funds public school music programs in New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. Attendees could make optional donations to the organization during the concert. The performances were also live-streamed online.
As the live-stream began broadcasting from Yale’s Woolsey Hall, the audience fell silent. Voices from Yale’s Glee Club filled the auditorium as they performed their opening piece, a dignified rendition of “Ave Maria,” composed by R. Nathaniel Dett. The chorus then performed two pieces, “Bogoróditse Djévo” by Sergei Rachmaninoff and “Meditation,” composed by Joel Thompson for the 161st Yale Glee Club.
The songs were soon followed by the world premiere of “Because You Sang.” Composed for the Yale Glee Club by Arianne Abela, a Yale alumna, “Because You Sang” honors the 50th anniversary of coeducation at Yale College. After a few more pieces, Yale’s segment concluded with Yale’s “Football Medley,” complete with playful jabs at the school’s longtime rival Harvard.
After Yale Glee Club completed their final bows, Princeton University Glee Club, conducted by Gabriel Crouch, Director of Choral Activities and Senior Lecturer in Music at Princeton, climbed on stage to cheers from the audience in Richardson. The performance consisted of alternating pieces from two of the club’s subsections: Sea Shanty Choir, a maritime-themed group, and Alegría, which performs Latin American and Latinx choral music. Alegría, which means “glee” in Spanish, is conducted by Mariana Corichi Gómez ’21. Both groups were established this year.
The Sea Shanty Choir began Princeton’s segment with the serious “To be sung of a summer night on the water” by Frederick Delius. After a round of applause, Alegría took center stage with “En la noche entraremos,” an expressive, winding piece composed by M.E. Valverde that draws lyrics from the Pablo Neruda poem “La rama robada.” The performance featured soprano soloist Jacqueline Pothier ’22 and tenor soloist Rafael Collado ’24.
In a brief interview after the concert, Collado commented on the piece, emphasizing the richness of Neruda’s verses. “It’s a lot of beautiful imagery. There’s this line about ‘estrellas olorosas,’ which means fragrant stars. It’s like a sight-smelling sensory detail. It’s very wonderful poetry,” he noted.
Speaking about his experience as a member of Alegría, Collado also noted the connection between the group’s work and his cultural heritage. “As a Cuban American, I love singing songs in Spanish. Alegría is probably one of the highlights of Glee Club in general. I think I came at a good time because the theme really resonates with me,” said Collado.
“En la noche entraremos” was followed by the Sea Shanty Choir’s lively performance of “The Bermudas,” by Richard Rodney Bennett. The piece included solos from tenor Tim Amarell ’22 and baritone Nicholas Allen ’23. Afterward, there were two more songs from Alegría, “Fina Estampa” by Chabuca Granda and “En los surcos del amor” by Carlos Guastavino, as well as another piece from the Sea Shanty Choir called “Tuuli tuudittele” by Jean Sibelius. “Tuuli tuudittele” featured mezzo soprano Emily Cruz ’22 and bass singer Kevin Williams ’22 as soloists.
Similar to Yale’s concert, Princeton Glee Club’s segment ended with a medley of Princeton football songs. The singers slammed their binders on the floor, signaling that they knew the song by heart, and brought out Princeton gear they had concealed on stage. One student opened a black and orange umbrella as the song began. The choir was accompanied by Brendan Tang ’23 and Cherry Ge ’24 on the piano and conducted by Hannah Bein ’22.
After a brief intermission, Harvard’s livestream, broadcasted from Sanders Theatre, began with the solemn “So Fades the Lovely, Blooming Flow’r,” composed by William Walker. Like the two groups before them, Harvard Glee Club’s repertoire included pieces from around the world, including “Lamento della Ninfa” by Claudio Monteverdi and the world premiere performance of “Iinkomo” by Bongani Magatyana.
Harvard Glee Club ended their segment with a series of football songs performed by Harvard Glee Club Lite, the choir’s acapella group, and “Fair Harvard,” a traditional Irish melody. A speech by the Harvard Glee Club president, which included digs at Princeton that were met with lighthearted boos in Richardson, concluded the event.
“It’s been a blast. Glee Club has been very fun, and I’m glad I found this community. I’ll forever be grateful for that first concert. It was such a magical moment, especially after not being able to do live music for so long,” said Collado, following the performance.
Princeton University Glee Club’s next concert will be Duruflé's Requiem on Nov. 22 in the University Chapel.
Bert Lee is a Staff Writer for The Prospect who often covers music and artist profiles. He can be reached at email@example.com.